One driver has never put down a lap at Iowa. The other driver takes over for a driver who won three consecutive races at the 0.875-mile track in Newton, Iowa.
These are two drivers JR Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing will be fielding during Saturday’s DuPont Pioneer 250 at Iowa – Regan Smith and Trevor Bayne, respectively.
Brad Keselowski, who drove for JRM in 2009, won the inaugural series event at the track that season. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove the No. 6 RFR car to three consecutive wins at Iowa, sweeping both events in 2011 and winning the spring race last year. Both years, he also took home the series titles.
In 114 races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Smith, the driver of the No. 5 JRM Chevrolet, has never competed at the site of this weekend’s race. The New York native, who currently holds a 27-point advantage over Sam Hornish Jr. in the standings, arrives with a streak of nine consecutive top-10 finishes, dating back to the Las Vegas race in March.
At the three tracks with similar lengths to Iowa – Phoenix (one mile), Richmond (.75 mile), Dover (one mile) – that the series has already visited in 2013, Smith has finishes of 11th, fifth and ninth, respectively.
Bayne, who is coming off sixth- and fourth-place finishes over the past two races, has done an admirable job in replacing Stenhouse in the No. 6 RFR Ford. Through 11 races, the Tennessee native has three top fives, five top 10s and one pole.
In three career starts at Iowa, he has finishes of fifth, 25th and 26th. By piloting Stenhouse’s old car this weekend, perhaps Bayne will be able to replicate some of the past driver’s successes at the track.
Stenhouse was promoted to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for 2013. In 2011, Stenhouse’s two victories at Iowa were his only two en route to his first championship. His Iowa win in 2012 was the third of his six victories that season.